MUHC nurse committed to the visibility of black scientists

Stéphanie Bumba

In this month that celebrates black history, we would like to highlight the initiatives of Stéphanie Bumba, a nurse clinician at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), in her quest to build a more inclusive society.

Stéphanie Bumba launched the web series Ces afro-scientifiques d’hier à aujourd’hui  (These Afro-scientists from yesterday to today) on her YouTube channel Nurse Stephie TV  in August 2020. Five months later, her first episode has already had more than 20,000 viewings. This series, which includes six episodes and whose second season is coming soon, aims to raise awareness about scientists of African descent who are often forgotten in the school curriculum and to give them credit for their important contributions to scientific advancement. "My first goal is that this can become a pedagogical resource for teachers," says Stéphanie.

This year, Black History Month is taking place under the theme "The future is now". For me, youth is the future,” says Stéphanie. “If we can make young people aware of the fact that black people have contributed to the development of science and society, it reduces stereotypes about them.” In fact, high school teachers have already included her video clips in their classes. "It means a lot to me. Teachers are allies in my mission,” she adds.It was while cleaning up her schoolbooks that Stéphanie realized something was wrong: black scientists are absent! This led to the idea of creating an educational web series to set the record straight. One of the reasons for the success of the series is an open letter titled Ces Noirs ô combien invisibles dans les sciences !  (These Blacks, so invisible in science!) that Stéphanie sent to the media in November 2020. She is still amazed at the positive impact this has had and the number of people she has managed to reach. From one interview to the next, this nurse's work has become known to the general public. New opportunities have also presented themselves to her, allowing her to continue her awareness work: she has been invited as a blogger by the Montreal Science Centre and also as a speaker by the Université de Montréal and the University of Ottawa, for example.

Stéphanie is also a member of the Quebec Black Medical Association, whose main mission is to be a vector for excellence in the representation of health professionals from black visible minorities. Proud of her roots and of her nursing profession, she insists that this profession must be more highly valued. "We are scientific beings with empathic skills. For me, being a nurse means being a person at the centre of activities, listening to everyone: patients, doctors, social workers, caregivers, etc.” Stéphanie is also pursuing her Master's degree in Health Services Administration Sciences at the Université de Montréal. Despite her busy schedule, she always finds time to comb through databases in search of information to create new episodes for her series.

Did you know…

The founder of the world's first blood banks, Dr. Charles Richard Drew, was an African American scientist who studied at McGill University's Faculty of Medicine. 

He is the star of Stéphanie's very first video!

Watch it here! (French)